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31 August 2009

Chew small bites to lose weight

Many weight-loss programs suggest eating smaller sized bites and savouring them in your mouth a little longer. Such advice may actually help cut food intake, researchers report.

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Many weight-loss programs suggest eating smaller sized bites, and savouring them in your mouth a little longer. Such advice may actually help cut food intake, researchers report.

Previous studies have shown that eating smaller bites may slow down eating, but doesn't necessarily have an effect on overall food intake. And keeping food in your mouth longer gives your senses more time to become satisfied, note Dr Cees de Graaf, at Wageningen University in the Netherlands, and colleagues, and when the senses are satisfied, people tend to eat less.

The study by de Graaf's team in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition hints that eating small bites of food rather than large bites, and holding this food in the mouth longer "significantly decreases food intake," they report.

How the study was done
De Graaf's group enlisted eight men and 14 women, who were 21 years old on average, healthy, and liked chocolate custard, to consume regulated amounts of custard via a silicon tube.

Each participant went through seven scenarios - self-chosen bite size combined with self-chosen, three seconds, or nine seconds of keeping food in the mouth; and small bite size (about five grams of custard) or large bite size (about 15 grams of custard) both with three or nine seconds of keeping food in the mouth.

The team found that smaller bite size led to less food intake. But they also found that holding food in the mouth for a longer time also led to lower food intake. On average, custard intake was 42 grams less for those who held the food in their mouths nine seconds, versus shorter periods of time.

The idea that exposing your senses to food for longer, by keeping it in your mouth for more time, leads to earlier feelings of fullness, and thus to smaller meal sizes, seems to be valid, note De Graaf and colleagues.

They suggest additional research in real-life settings, with other food products. – (Reuters Health, August 2009)

 
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